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Thursday, April 27, 2000

Germaine Greer bound, beaten at her home by female stalker
Author badly shaken

David Sapsted
The Guardian

Bruno Schlumberger, Ottawa Citizen
Germaine Greer writes in Saturday's Daily Telegraph: "Why is it that when my space is invaded my heart beats like a sledgehammer?"

LONDON - Germaine Greer, the feminist author, was recovering yesterday after being attacked and held captive by a female stalker at her house in the Essex countryside.

Her assailant, a 19-year-old Bath University student with a fixation for the Australian-born writer, allegedly bound Ms. Greer and assaulted her on Monday.

Ms. Greer's ordeal only ended when three friends, with whom she was meant to be dining, heard shouting as they arrived at her house and called the police.

Officers took the intruder to the local police station and she is now being held at a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. Although she has been charged, officers familiar with the case say she is likely to be deemed unfit to stand trial.

The student, who has not been named, first approached Ms. Greer, 61, on the weekend when she knocked on the door and asked to talk to the writer who defined feminism in the 1970s.

The author of The Female Eunuch invited her into her home. After initial pleasantries, however, the visitor became troublesome and Ms. Greer called the police.

Officers arrived and, after interviewing the student, took her to a railway station and ordered her not to approach the writer again.

However, on Monday evening, as Ms. Greer was locking her house to set off for dinner, the student re-appeared and grabbed her.

Then she forced her back into the house, tied her up and attacked her.

Ms. Greer's eyeglasses were broken, and the screaming student also smashed ornaments and other items with a poker.

"It must have been a frightening ordeal for Miss Greer," said a police officer. "The girl was obviously fixated on her and became hysterical and potentially very violent.

"Fortunately, her three dinner friends arrived, heard the commotion inside and called the police. It could have been a lot worse."

The writer suffered no major physical injury in the attack but was badly shaken. She was not available for comment last night but, in a column she wrote on Tuesday for this Saturday's Daily Telegraph, she aired nervous feelings about strangers.

"Why is it," she wrote, "that when my space is invaded my heart beats like a sledgehammer? If I see a stranger wandering down my drive, my hackles rise and I pounce out of the workshop roaring, 'Can I help you?' as if what I really mean was 'Can I slit your throat?'

"I have no signs saying 'Private Property' or 'Keep Out' or 'Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted,' but the mad glint in my eyes is meant to speak volumes. I am as territorial as a robin, who will drill his beak into the skull of any interloper robin who wanders on to his patch.

"I have chosen to live far from neighbours, to have no strangers' windows overlooking my hedges, to have a single entrance on to the property, to cover the tarmac of the driveway with two inches of pea-shingle [gravel] so that no car that enters can go unnoticed."

Though Ms. Greer now appears to guard her privacy jealously in the $1.2-million home, she has in the past allowed homeless people to live in her outbuildings.

The student is to appear in court on May 4 charged with unlawful imprisonment and causing bodily harm.

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